Grant Hill: Professional athletes, like Colin Kaepernick, ‘have the right to be outspoken’

Grant Hill waded into the intersection of politics and sports Sunday, celebrating the “powerful” ways young athletes use their platform while acknowledging potentially “difficult” situations.

“Their influence and their profile and the connection that they have in the audience and the fan base, I mean that’s powerful,” the co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and former NBA star told CNN’s Van Jones at the “Citizen by CNN” event in Detroit.

But while Hill said he would support an NBA player on his roster as outspoken as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, he acknowledged potentially “difficult” situations for owners and athletes in an increasingly polarized political landscape.

When asked about an NBA player who outwardly supported President Donald Trump, Hill appeared less resolute.

“That would be — we never really thought about that,” he said. “I would say it would probably, in our market, in Atlanta we have the largest African-American season ticket fan base, we pride ourselves on diversity and inclusion.”

Hill added “the franchise belongs to the city of Atlanta, we’re just the stewards. But so, that would be difficult. I think ultimately people have the right to be outspoken and we have to take it both ways, but thankfully that was not an issue and hopefully it won’t be an issue moving forward.”

Earlier in the event, Hill spoke in personal terms about Trump’s recent attacks on Baltimore, where his father grew up.

“It’s unconscionable to think that, you know the President of the United States would, you know, say that about a segment of the population,” he said. “I have great memories and fond memories of my time in Baltimore and my grandparents and spending summers there.”

“Obviously, Baltimore has gone through some challenges and some struggles like most cities have in recent years but you know, the people there are good people.”

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